Amid rising tensions in the Middle East, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen arrived in Cairo, Egypt today for a two-day peace summit.
At the summit, Canada announced it would be sending an additional $50 million in humanitarian aid to help Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and neighbouring regions. A news release by Global Affairs on Saturday said the aid would be going toward providing food, water, medical assistance and life-saving assistance to civilians in the area, “ensuring that none of the money goes into the hands of Hamas.”
“It is critical that Palestinian civilians in Gaza who need life-saving assistance receive it as soon as possible. Canada will continue to work with its trusted and experienced humanitarian partners to make sure this funding reaches those who are suffering,” Joly said in a news release.
Canadian officials met with their counterparts to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that has claimed the lives of thousands in Gaza, a number likely to rise, humanitarian organizations say as aid arrives in the war-torn region for the first time since the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza closed two weeks ago.
Since Hamas’ deadly attack on Oct. 7, Canada has sent $10 million in humanitarian aid and organized 16 flights out of Tel Aviv to help evacuate Canadians and their family members. While there are more flights scheduled to leave Israel over the weekend, due to the Rafah border closure there is still no plan to get the more than 400 Canadians in Gaza out.
In Canada, 33 members of Parliament penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for an immediate ceasefire in the name of innocent civilians on both fronts.
UN Food Program Country Director for Palestine Samer Abdeljaber told CTV News one million people in Gaza were already food insecure, though with the crisis this number has grown and shelters have become overcrowded. As the war continues, Abdeljaber says it’s becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian staff in Gaza to help civilians as many of them have been displaced themselves.
“Our staff that are in Gaza are actually displaced, most of them who are living in shelters or with relatives. They lost their [homes],” Abdeljaber said. “It’s a very difficult situation that they’re in as a team. We want to get in the search and get those who are in need to get out for health related reasons, but until that opportunity comes unfortunately, we are doing everything we can.”
With files from The Associated Press, Rachel Aiello and Michael Lee